Spotlight on Big Business: WIG members leading the way for economic recovery

This month, Stephanie Pearce, WIG's Content and Event Manager, highlights the enormous economic importance of WIG's FTSE 350 members and some of their initiatives to support post-COVID 19 recovery. 

As we look towards economic recovery in the UK, the role that big business will play is coming under increasing focus. The Whitehall & Industry Group is well known for our public sectors members, but did you know that our FTSE 350 private sector member organisations also include 11 of the 15 largest companies in the UK? (Based on 2019 revenue in US$, according to the Forbes 500).  

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The 2019 edition of the brand directory produced by Brand Finance shows that 15 of the top 20 most valuable brands for companies registered in the UK are also owned by WIG members.

One of the key aims of our autumn events and content programme is connecting these leading businesses with our membership across the sectors, and convening discussion around the crucial issues that will drive economic recovery in the UK.  July saw the launch of the ‘COVID Recovery Commission’ which will consider improvements to “productivity and innovation” as well as assessing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on “the digital economy and decarbonisation” ( The initiative is being led by John Allan CBE, Chair of Tesco, with further WIG member organisations being represented through the following commissioners: Ruth Cairnie, Chair of Babcock, John Holland-Kaye, CEO at Heathrow Airport, Nick Jeffery, CEO of Vodafone UK, and Sinead Lynch, Chair at Shell UK. Sinead will be speaking for us on achieving net zero in September, you can register to attend here.

The importance being placed on a ‘green recovery’ by organisations across the sectors has also been highlighted in an open letter signed by over 200 industry leaders, including WIG members: Anglian Water Group, Arup, Aviva, BP, BT, Bupa, Capita, EA, Heathrow, Kingfisher, L&G, Nationwide, Natural England, PWC, RBS, Santander, Shell, Standard Life, and Tesco. The letter asks the UK government to ensure that “economic recovery plans you are developing align with the UK’s wider goals and deliver a clean, just recovery, that creates quality employment and builds a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient UK economy for the future” ( 

The current recession poses a number of questions around the future of the UK’s high street, which has already been in a period of change as e-commerce continues to increase market share across the board. You probably know that a number of retail giants are valued WIG members, including Coop, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis Partnership, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, but WIG’s high street footprint even is bigger than you think. Our members such as Kingfisher and Hutchison Whampoa (Europe) Ltd. own stalwarts of the great British high street including those pictured below.

WIG’s extensive private sector membership also encompasses a huge array of household brands, including: Dettol, Strepsils, Post-it, Scotch tape, Finish, Oreo, Cadbury, Ritz, Green & Black’s, Ryvita, Twinings, Kingsmill and Tetley. The brand recognition and clout of these businesses  only adds to our ideal placement as the convener for some of the urgent discussions required, as organisations across the private and public spheres seek to support the UK’s rapidly evolving FMCG and retail sectors. Steve Rowe, CEO of Marks & Spencer will be speaking for us on the future of the high street in October, you can register to attend here.

  • Stephanie Pearce

    Event & Content Manager

    As Event & Content Manager, Stephanie is responsible for producing and managing a wide range of WIG events across a number of networks. Before joining WIG, Stephanie worked in the events industry producing conferences on different aspects of the global sustainability agenda such as circular economy, waste management, and decarbonisation of the shipping industry. Stephanie holds a doctorate from the School of Politics & International Relations at Queen Mary College, and taught on undergraduate courses including ‘The International Political Economy of Development’ prior to embarking on her events career. When she’s not in the office, Stephanie can be found exploring London’s museums and art galleries with her daughter.